Rutherglen Historical Society
Rutherglen Historical Society
The Rutherglen Historical Society (RHS) is run by 13 volunteers, and is working solidly towards cataloguing its collection and adding it to Victorian Collections.
The Rutherglen Historical Society was founded in 1964 and operates with the aim of conserving and preserving the history of Rutherglen and surrounds. The society operates from the Common School Museum in Murray Street which was the very first purpose built school for the children of Rutherglen, constructed in 1872 and opened on 13 Jan 1873.
There are seven Committee members and six ordinary members; all are volunteers. One ordinary member and three Committee members are rostered to work in the Museum, which opens four days a week for a total of 16 hours.
Community engagement and partnerships
The RHS has a partnership with the Rutherglen Primary School to enhance their community and family studies. They plan to extend the school partnerships to include St Mary’s Primary and the Rutherglen High School by meeting with the Principals and Teachers to make available specific research material on line to meet their curriculum.
The RHS houses a fascinating collection of historical artefacts from Rutherglen and surrounds. Farming implements, wine paraphernalia, mining equipment, early photographs and a perfectly re-created period schoolroom are just a few of the highlights. There are special emphases on gold, wine, pioneers and schools.
Documents and photographs are being scanned, and the matching records improved and made public, or new records are added.
At present there are just over 6200 records on Victorian Collections, with only 1660 of them public. These records were loaded from information on old worksheets, and are being checked and photographs added before they are made public.
Software and hardware
Initially the RHS tried to work with one particular collection management system, but had issues with support and costs. So, following a review the RHS to move to Victorian Collections, which has become both the internal catalogue for the collection and provides online access where required.
The volunteers use a ScanPro 2000 microform scanner and an A3 Epsom Workforce printer scanner.
Digitising of the Rutherglen Sun and Chiltern Valley Advertiser on 35mm Microfilm is under way. The work undertaken involves 3 stages:
1 - undertaking auto scans with Optical Character Recognition and word search capability;
2 - saving the image files in a page/issue/month/year file directory, and
3 - examining the original image to try to improve accuracy of the readability and searchability.
Currently 98% of stage 1 of this particular collection has been completed. With one roll of badly damaged newspaper page images, the images will require individual attention and manipulation to make them as readable and word searchable as possible.
The main challenge the RHS is working with is the enormity of photographing / digitising its whole collection, and cataloguing the collection into Victorian Collections. They are not certain of the total size of the collection and need to undertake an audit - they are fairly certain there are items that have never been entered on to any of the existing lists of collection items.
Another issue, which is common to many volunteer organisations, is finding volunteers who are not challenged by technology, and can readily work with the equipment and the systems.
Digitising the collection and having the capability to provide digital access has opened up some wonderful opportunities.
One of the committee members has been working on a book and will use the word search capacity of the digitised local newspaper to search for information. This would previously have been a very significant manual task that would be very impractical to carry out. This is a clear demonstration of the wonderful value in digitising collections, particularly in using Optical Character Recognition.
The RHS is also working on providing access to the collection items to the local schools, as a way of providing access to historical content so that the children can learn about where they live, and to support the schools’ curricula.
Further, the RHS is working on the possibility of providing some access to the digitised copy of the 100 years of our local Newspaper to the public through the Rutherglen Wine Exchange and Visitor Information Centre. This collaborative approach to the dissemination of the information will ensure a broader audience will have access to the digitised content.